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Before They Fall by Jchrissy
Chapter 39 : The Force That Drives Us
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 26


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Incredible CI by heartfelt @ TDA
Chapter 39 - The Force That Drives Us

The ocean waves lapped against the stone, playing out an ancient melody. Accompanying the sounds was a sheet of heavy clouds that kept the morning chill hanging in the air.

Grayness was all that surrounded the seven students and headmaster. For that, Lily was glad. She couldn’t face the sun. She couldn’t handle a bright blue day with birds singing and rays beating against her skin.

“Thank you for arranging it all,” Lily heard Sirius say to Professor Dumbledore, his voice absent of animation. He’d been the one to fight tooth and nail for this spot by the sea. Belle didn’t belong in France, and Sirius made sure she wasn’t forced to go back there.

Lily had no idea how many Galleons Sirius forked out to make this area Belle’s; the group’s insistence that they’d all help pay fell on deaf ears. At least he’d finally been able to get into the vault that housed his inheritance. And now Belle would rest forever under a net of trees, just above the ocean as it swayed against the rocks.

The redhead didn’t ask what’d been done to get her family to agree, or what Dumbledore had gone through to get her buried in a matter of days. For once, she didn’t care about the details. All she cared about was their best friend’s polished headstone resting in a place as beautiful as the girl it belonged to.

“Did they say they’d come for her funeral in the morning?” James asked, and Lily broke away from the trance of waves, then stepped closer to James, Sirius, and the headmaster.

She gauged the look in Albus Dumbledore’s eyes and forced down a rush of frustration when he gave his head a small shake.

“Her own parents?” Lily stuttered. “Their grudge is so important that they won’t come say goodbye to their daughter?” The anger seemed to grow stronger with each word.

Sirius's voice was raw when he opened his mouth to speak. “Those bastards don’t belong here, anyway.”

The wind strengthened, causing the leaves of the trees to rustle around. James looked up, glancing behind them and studying the space carefully.

“Are we safe here?” he asked Dumbledore after a moment of listening to the noises.

Lily was confused by the question, but that didn’t seem to be the case for Professor Dumbledore.

“I took a few liberates and had the land purchased through Muggle means, not informing the Ministry of either the death or plot that would reside here,” he began. “The result of this unregistered purchase is your inability to be tracked through their tools. I’ve also added a cleansing spell along the perimeter, revealing the true identities of anyone attempting to use magic as a disguise. It will wash away most spells placed on a person that walks past it, even if the spells weren’t to that person’s knowledge. Ones similar to the Tracker that had been placed on Miss Leclair, for example. Even so, I would still suggest keeping your visits short.”

“Professor,” Lily said, meeting the man’s eyes and really looking at him for the first time. He seemed tired, the pain in his face mirroring her own. “Thank you for doing all this.”

She did something that surprised even her; she reached forward and threw her arms around the elder man’s neck. He accepted the hug without hesitance, and when they parted it seemed as if some of the happiness had returned to his gentle eyes.

“I will always do what I’m able for any that require or request my assistance, Miss Evans. And now, it’s time I take my leave and prepare for this evening’s graduation ceremony. If I don’t see you all there, you’ll have my complete understanding and assurance that it’s not required you attend.”

“No,” Sirius argued. “No, she wouldn’t want that. She’d be pissed at us if we missed it, and we already told James’s parents we’d meet them there. We’re going to leave with them the next morning and Lily’s going to drive us all up for the...funeral.”

His words hung in the air and Lily felt the small wall of strength she’d built begin to crumble. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that they were standing at Belle’s grave, planning to come back with Olivia and William tomorrow so they could see a bloody headstone and say goodbye. It wasn’t fair that Belle was gone when they’d had such a short amount of time with her, and the cruelness of it all drove straight through Lily’s heart.

She felt the tremors ride through her bones, her shoulders shaking as she struggled to hold back the sobs. James pulled her into his chest, as if shielding a frightened child from the world, his hand moving down the length of hair that tumbled over her back.

Lily wished she could force herself to stay strong, that James wasn’t the one having to ease the constant sorrow that had pulsated through her the last two days. But every time she pictured Belle’s face, so perfect and beautiful, every time she heard the French accent ringing in her head, it was like losing her all over again.

None of them were okay, and in an odd way that comforted Lily. She’d spent the last few nights with James in his flat, not able to face her and Belle’s. In all honesty, she didn’t know if she ever would be.

“There’s no explanation for it,” Lily heard Dumbledore say, and she eased away from James to glance at him while he spoke. His voice had a pull to it, and soon all seven of them had their eyes on the headmaster. “And there’s no understanding of why souls as innocent and young as your own have to endure the kind of pain being thrown around with careless hands. But it is still my wish that you’re able to reminisce on the moments that brought you joy and laughter, and I can only hope that with time the agony will dull.”

“Professor,” Alice said, her voice croaking. “Have you... have you ever lost someone?”

An unmistakable sadness washed over the wrinkled face. “I have lost too many someones in my time, Miss Christopherson. And the urge to let the grief simply pull me under has threatened to seduce me into its false promises of comfort. There is no replacement for feelings, no ability to forget those feelings or lessen them. We must experience each excruciating stab that death creates, and overcome it. That is, if we truly wish to remain as whole as possible. And now, I must be off. As I mentioned, keeping your time here spent in shorter blocks would serve well, I believe.”

They said their goodbyes to the man, silent as they listened to the pop of Apparation. With the headmaster now gone, they all moved toward the grave. The dark stone would probably sparkle in the sun, glimmering the same way Belle’s blue eyes had. They’d chosen not to have Muggle repelling wards put up, not wishing to hide her from anyone. The place was clearly marked as belonging to the dead, though. A white fence surrounded the ten foot by ten foot section of land, about knee height with vines twisting along it. Lily wasn’t sure if Dumbledore had added it or if it’d already been in place.

Sirius’s only demand was that she be buried by the sea, but how exactly the headmaster found this place, they weren’t certain.

Still, it fit their friend perfectly. The trees and wildflowers offered a delicate feeling, while the sea beating the rocks below contradicted that with its wild nature. It was as if the spot was made for Belle.

“It doesn’t seem real,” Frank mumbled from his place in the half circle they’d formed around her grave.

Lily felt her legs lose their strength and sat on the moist grass, Alice lowering herself down as well.

“I was going to accept the position at the Healing Academy of Magical Medicine.” Why did Lily’s voice sound so foreign to her own ears?

“You’ll make a perfect healer,” Alice mumbled.

Was going, not anymore. I’m turning them down. I won’t just move on with life... I can’t.”

Remus seemed to realize where she was going with her statement. “You want to help stop them?” he asked from his spot in the circle. The rest of the group began sitting down, apart from Sirius who stood like a tower in the center of them all, his eyes still glued to the stone.

“I have to,” she corrected. “I thought... I thought maybe I could do both. Could help whatever it is Dumbledore is working on and still attend the Healing Academy. I can’t do both, and I don’t want to do anything until Bellatrix is in Azkaban and Voldemort is dead.”


“I don’t need the internship at the Ministry,” Peter said. “I don’t need to start it now, at least.”

“No,” Frank argued. “No. Whatever Dumbledore does have going on, it has to rely on information. The more people in the Ministry, the better.”

“The hours aren’t much, I suppose,” Peter reasoned. “I wonder if I’ll even be any help with trying to stop Voldemort or just in the way.”

Lily turned her head to him, smiling weakly. “You’ll be just as much help as the rest of us.”

“Well,” he said with a shrug, “I’ll try my best, at least.”

Alice’s voice sounded rough as she spoke through a throat full of tears. But Lily could still hear the steel of her tone, the absolute certainty in her determination. “Frank and I will spend every hour we’re not training doing whatever we’re able. We can’t... things can’t go back to how they were. Belle’s dead, and the people that did it are going to pay.”

“It’s going to be dangerous,” James said, glancing around at them all. “From everything I’ve heard my mum and dad talk about, dangerous doesn’t even describe it. You all understand that?”

A collective murmur passed through the group. Maybe they hadn’t all been ready to throw their lives into stopping this a few months ago when James brought it up, but that was before. Before Belle’s heart had ceased beating, before her skin had gone cold and ashy in death.

The sound of footsteps stole Lily’s attention. Her insides froze as she turned her head around, everyone else doing the same. A small figure of a woman was moving closer, and Lily thought for just a moment that she must be going mad. Silvery blonde hair, a small frame...

As soon as her heart gave that one heavy pleading, begging for it to be Belle, she began seeing differences in the person that walked closer. A few inches taller, the waves of hair barely shoulder length as opposed to Belle’s, which had cascaded all down her back.

“Is that...?” she heard Alice whisper. Sirius turned from the polished rock then stepped through the circle and over to the girl, his stance assertive as he blocked, who Lily assumed was, Belle’s sister.

“‘Ello.” Lily felt a shiver run down her at the sound of the voice. Not identical to Belle’s, but very similar. At closer glance, she could see that the blue eyes were more green. Not the same ocean color of Belle’s. Her lips weren’t tilted, either. Their best friend had always looked like she was constantly on the verge of telling you a funny secret, her eyes twinkling and lips curving...this girl looked nothing like that.

“I’m looking for Isabelle Leclair’s grave,” she continued, but Sirius didn’t answer, just stood with his arms crossed. If Lily could see his eyes she was sure they’d be glaring.

“I’m ‘oping to find my sister,” the blonde tried again. “Ze ‘Eadmaster of ‘Ogwarts told my parents Isabelle would be buried here, before a funeral to be ‘eld on Sunday.” Lily noticed the puffiness around the girl’s eyes... the red tinge to them.

“I didn’t zink anybody would be ‘ere today, and wanted to say goodbye,” she finally finished. Lily understood Sirius needed to protect Belle, even in death, but couldn’t handle watching the scene. This was Belle’s sister, after all. Her flesh and blood, and if anyone understood the complexity of sisters, it was Lily.

“Sirius,” she said, and stood to move beside the dark haired boy. Just then a boom of thunder came rocking through, shaking the sky. It hadn’t started raining yet, but it would. Any minute now.

“Sirius,” she repeated, then took hold of his large arm and slipped her fingers into his, giving them a reassuring squeeze. It seemed to help him back off a fraction and his tension eased ever so slightly.

“We aren’t leaving,” he said. “You can say goodbye all you want, but we’re not leaving you alone with her.” With that, he pulled his arm from Lily’s and stomped the few feet back to the headstone, looking at it with set determination.

“Zat must be Sirius Black. I’m Adeline, by ze way.” Lily couldn’t be friendly. She couldn’t tell the girl it was nice to meet her any more than she could ask how her journey from France was. She just didn’t care.

“Yes,” she finally answered, realizing Adeline’s eyes were still no her. “That’s Sirius.”

“Here,” came Alice’s gentle voice. “Why don’t you over and sit with us.”

“No, I zank you, bit it’s fine. I suppose I just...” Lily watched as emotion flashed into Adeline’s eyes, hot and painful.

“It’s okay,” Lily mumbled, feeling pity ease past the wall of numbness. “She was your sister. You’re allowed to be sad.”

“No,” came the choked refusal. “No, I’m not. I was never ze sister she deserved, and I ‘ad no right to come ‘ere.”

“You’re right,” Sirius shot from a few feet behind them. “You didn’t.”

Lily ignored the statement, but heard James order Sirius up. She glanced back and saw him half dragging the black haired boy toward the edge of the fence where the land ended and a small drop occurred, the sea crashing against that miniature cliff.

“I’m sure Belle’s told you what ‘appened,” Adeline continued, her shoulders starting to tremble. “And I’m sure you all zink I’m am monster. And I am. But I loved Belle very much, and I tried to force myself to believe zat she was as good as dead when she left our family. Ze truth is, I always zought zings would go back to normal eventually.”

“Your parents were horrible to her,” Lily said, unable to stop herself. “And you thought Belle would forget that and go back to that nightmare she was forced to call a home?”

“Oh, absolutely not,” Adeline argued with an odd laughter and crying combination as she shook her head. “No, Belle was never one to forgive and forget. I just zought either mother and father would make an attempt to apologize, or Belle would decide to move back to France once she got her bearings.... I just never realize ‘ow little time I ‘ad left to ‘eal our relationship.”

“She said you helped her,” Lily mumbled, remembering the story Belle had told them. “You were there for her, and maybe you weren’t as gracious about it as you could have been, but Belle was thankful that she had you during...”

“Ze incident. Yes, I didn’t know if she ‘ad told you or not. I assumed ze boy she traveled to France with must’ve known considering ‘e ‘it Christophe.”

A sarcastic laugh came from behind Lily, followed by Remus’s voice. “Sirius would have hit him anyway, at least if Christoph is half the git Sirius made him out to be.”

“Well,” Adeline said, apparently unsure of what to say. Luckily, Alice cut in.

“Why don’t you just come sit down? It’s obvious you came here to see her.”

“Well, alright zen,” Adaline said, then walked over and pulled off a thin cloak she was wearing, setting it down before kneeling on it. Lily was surprised to see very Muggle and very current clothing on the girl’s body.

“My ‘usband and I are involved with numerous Muggle society events,” Adeline said, apparently catching Lily’s gaze. “I prefer zis sort of wardrobe to ze classic wizarding style.”

Silence followed. None of them knew what to say, and Lily didn’t even attempt to struggle to keep the conversation going. She just didn’t give a damn. After another threatening boom, the last bit of strength the clouds possessed to hold the rain in seemed to break through, and large drops came pouring down.

Still, no one moved. The petals stems of wildflower bent from the pressure, becoming caught in the wind and rising once again. Back and forth they moved, an odd sort of dance with only the elements controlling them.

“‘Ow did it ‘appen?” Adeline finally asked, and when Lily glanced at the girl she could see tears filling her eyes. “Ze ‘eadmaster said it was an attack, but my parents asked ‘im to leave before ‘e could say more.”

Lily felt her eyes travel from Alice, to Peter, Remus, and Frank. None of them seeming anymore keen on telling Adeline the story, either. They already lived through it once, why should they have to do it again.

“It was quick,” Remus finally answered just as James and Sirius came walking over, James’s hand on Sirius’s back, both boys with soaking hair that fell into their eyes. Whatever they’d talked about must’ve helped, because -- though Sirius didn’t look ready to speak to Adeline -- he went to other side of the half circle without a word.

“Belle saved my life in December.” Lily bit her bottom lip as the words crept out, knowing once she started, she wouldn’t be able to stop. “She and Sirius are the only reasons I, and probably James, are still alive.” The quivering began and she pushed the heels of her hands into her sore eyes, trying to stop the tears.

“She disarmed a terrible witch,” James added as Adeline’s eyes roamed around the group, clearly wanting more of the story. “A woman who works for Voldemort.”

Lily watched a look of recognition fall over Adeline’s face. It was clear she was very aware of who he was.

“And because she saved me,” Lily took over, no longer attempting to hold back the tears. “This woman wanted revenge. Belle was the one to disarm her, and that was enough for her to decide that Belle deserved death.”

“The war ‘as spread so far? Zat zey can just kill anyone wi’zout being caught? Students who are still practically children?” Adeline asked.

“You guys don’t get a fucking newspaper over there?” Sirius snapped, but his words held little venom.

“We are aware zat zis man’s power is growing, but ze extent is unknown to us.”

Alice’s soft voice cut through the tension. “Our own Daily Prophet doesn’t even print the truth, why should we expect other countries to understand?” she asked, her eyes on Sirius.

“And zis woman-” Adeline interrupted before Sirius could argue. “She... do ze authorities know who it is? WIll she be captured?”

“Yes,” James said without a beat of hesitation. “We know who she is, and no matter what it takes, we’ll make sure she pays for what she did to Belle.”

Lily watched as he ran a hand through his hair, pushing back the sopping strands. They were all soaked to the bone, but no one seemed to care. Or notice, for that matter.

“She would ‘ave wanted zat,” Adeline muttered, lost in her own thoughts as she continued. “She would ‘ave wanted to die knowing she ‘ad done some’zing for people she cared deeply about. Belle was never ze same as us, never ze way mother and father intended ‘er to be. I was ze dutiful one and grew up ze proper way. I can’t even say, if I ‘ad ze chance, zat I’d do any’zing differently. Zis is ‘ow I’m built... but Belle wasn’t.” She tilted her head up, letting the rain wash over her face and for that split second, Lily couldn’t believe how identical she looked to Belle.

“Belle was destined to be some’zing different. To be too much for any of us to understand or ‘andle... too strong to let our parents destroy ‘er ze way ze destroyed me... and I just went along with it. I’ve never been a strong person, and I won’t pretend to be. But Belle... she died young and beautiful, with people zat it seems she’d finally found to belong to. She would ‘ave rather died zat way zen living in ze world my parents tried to put ‘er in. Zat much, I am sure of.”

A nearly suffocating silence blanketed over them again; the rain halted in the same instant way that it’d begun. Lily couldn’t decide if Adeline's statement turned the already broken pieces of her heart into ash, or if the helped sew just an inch of thread into one of the gashes.

“I ‘ave to go,” she whispered, reaching forward as she did and touching a few fingers to Belle’s engraved name. “I can’t be ‘ere any longer.”

She stood up, and rest of the group doing the same -- their muscles aching to stretch.

“I can’t promise I will be a better person,” Adeline said, turning around after she’d walked a few feet away. “But I can promise to ‘onor my sister’s memory. If you ever need any’zing, I ‘ope you will feel able to call upon me. I live in ze Mansion of Grovewood -- you can use zat location for both Portkey and ze Floo network. And zank you-” She had to stop, choking on her own emotions. “Zank you for giving Belle ze kind of love she’d always craved.”

And with that, the girl hurried through the fence, obvious sound of Apparation following seconds after.

Sirius blocked out the sounds of the Great Hall as applause reverberated through. The first few seventh years had been called, though Sirius didn’t pay attention to who they were any more than he paid attention to the speeches given by Professor Dumbledore or the Head of the Department of Magical Education. None of it mattered to him. Just words, voices, things he had to endure until they could leave the Great Hall and speak with the professor. James had sent his patronus almost immediately after Belle’s sister left, requesting a moment with him after the ceremony.

And the entire fucking thing couldn’t be through with fast enough. He’d spent years being secretly excited for this moment. The Great Hall was full of large, elegant chairs for parents and family members to sit in; Olivia and William were somewhere in the bunch. Where the professor’s table usually stood there was now an elevated platform, hovering just as high as the seats that had been there and made out of some sort of sparkling stone. Two sets of golden stairs spiraled up, both meeting one end of the platform.

Sirius watched simply to give his eyes something to do as another person walked to where Professor Dumbledore stood. They exchanged words, and a silver hat was placed on the student’s head. After shaking hands, a streak of sparks erupted from the hat, showering the student wearing it with flecks of sparkles to match their respective house colors.

Everyone would go sit with their family after, then it would be time to saunter into Hogsmeade and spend the night celebrating.

Sirius wouldn’t be going out when it was all finished. None of them would.

Celebrations were for those who didn’t just have one of the most important fucking people ripped from their life.

For people who didn’t look at the scars that had been tortured into the girl they loved, all because Belle had gotten close to him. Surprisingly enough, Adeline’s words had eased just a touch of the guilt Sirius was drumming into his own heart. Maybe Belle’s sister was right. Maybe, if she had it all to do over again, Belle would have chosen the short life she’d spent among friends over slowly suffocating to death in the Leclair Estate.

But that still didn’t mean it wasn’t his fault. He should have protected her; he was with her the entire fucking night at the hospital wing and someone had snuck in and put the charm on her. Dumbledore said it had to be done when she was at ease, her body unable to fight it off. The mark of magic hadn’t shown up until he’d been able to screen the body for dark spells, and part of Sirius wished he’d never known.

There was no other time when the spell could have been used, and Sirius would hunt down whoever the fuck used it and make them pay. He glanced around, still not seeing any of the Prospect’s faces.

Cowards. They were probably in the heart of their own ceremony or whatever those bloody bastards did when they put the Dark Mark on their fucked up kind.

The names continued and Sirius was forced to keep moving forward. Lily’s hand would reach behind her from her place in line to his every so often, squeezing it tightly before letting it drop. He wasn’t the only one who lost Belle... it was all of them. They’d spent nearly every hour together the last few days. Alice and Frank had stayed at the flat as well, sprawling out over the floor in the living room with a nest of blankets. No one wanted to go into Lily and Belle’s flat...not yet.

They all lost her. And it just about killed them. Dumbledore talked about her at the start of the ceremony, and it had both infuriated and humbled Sirius to watch the tears that gathered for her. Pissed him the fuck off because why the hell did they deserve to cry over her? What had they ever done to deserve to feel broken by her death? But at the same time, she would have wanted that. All the attention.

The smallest of smiles flickered over Sirius’s lips as he thought about what Belle would say if she knew how many people were mourning her. She would like it, he knew, but she wouldn’t want to see the group suffer, either. He’d have to pull himself together--they all would--if for no other reason than the fact that Belle would want them to.


Even thinking her name was too much, causing a sharp sword of pain to stab through him. Fuck, he missed her. It’d only been two days, and he missed her so fucking much.

“Sirius Black,” came his name and he realized then that he was the next person in line. He jerked his head up, Dumbledore’s knowing eyes meeting his from the raised platform, then began to climb the golden staircase, one shaky step at a time.

It was time to walk into the next phase of his life. But no matter how long he lived, he would never get over Belle.

James felt an odd calmness fill him as they waited in the small area outside Professor Dumbledore’s study. He didn’t know what they were going to say, what they were going to do, but they would figure it out. The fact that they were doing something, all ready to do whatever they could to help, created a dull sort of comfort in James. He didn’t like feeling helpless, couldn’t stand it actually. Watching Lily’s pain, seeing Sirius break apart, hearing Alice cry herself to sleep in Frank’s arm from the other room as the seven of them all hid away in the flat... it all made James feel so fucking powerless. He couldn’t take any of their pain away, couldn’t even take his own away, but at least they’d all decided to do something about it.

He thought about trying one more time to talk Lily out of joining. To push her toward the Healing Academy instead. It wouldn’t work any better than it had earlier that day, he was sure of that. She’d listened to him before, nodding at his concerns in that manner of hers that made it clear she was hardly paying attention to anything he was saying. The conversation had ended with her reminded him that Belle was her friend, and nothing would stop her from being part of the group that brought Voldemort and Bellatrix to their knees. James had to admit he was being selfish when he’s wanted her to rethink his decisions... selfish and scared. Scared to lose her the way that Sirius had lost Belle and too selfish to want to face that fear. Although if he could be sure that being a selfish coward would keep her safe, he strongly suspected that he might have chosen to make that trade. The problem was that nothing was certain any more.

James went through his mind, trying to figure out everything his parents and Dumbledore had ever said. There were people working with the professor to dedicate their lives to stopping Voldemort... that much he remembered learning in St. Mungo’s. A secret group that tried to predict the Death Eaters’ attacks, when they were coming, and stop them... he’d overheard his parents talking about that one. Whatever it was, at least there were more people involved, more chances at keeping one another safe. Hell, with the way things were going, they weren’t in any more danger trying to stop Voldemort than they were ignoring him. He and Lily had gotten attacked for no real reason, and this way she’d be with him most of the time and not at the Healing Academy where anyone could get to her.

He let his eyes travel around the room, taking in the faces of his friends. He, Remus and Sirius had always been heading toward this. That much they knew. Remus would work with his dad delivering oil to make enough money, but the reality that he’d never really have a career was as true as it was fucked up. Peter had mentioned months ago that he was afraid of putting his mum in more danger--one of the few references he’d ever made to her being a squib--and they hadn’t wanted to push him. But when they talked again after visiting Belle that morning, he seemed determined to help as well. Dumbledore could help get protection for Peter’s mother, anyway.

“This is so fucking screwed up,” he muttered as his thoughts dwelled on the war. His statement didn’t need explanation, and he felt a small relief wash over him as Lily moved over to sit beside him, nestling her small head against his arm. Here he was, thinking about the friend that had died and how to keep the rest of them alive, and they were all barely eighteen. They should be thinking about how to get home tonight after they got too sloshed to see straight, but instead they were focusing on what part they would play in this war.

“It’ll be okay,” Lily whispered, moving a hand to hold his, her small thumb running along his much larger one. “It’ll all be okay,” she said again, louder so the group could hear. The sincerity in her voice was too honest not to believe.

The sound of a door opening filled the space and Dumbledore stepped from the stairs into the room, McGonagall behind him. He nodded at them all, his glasses catching a flame from the lantern and sending off a glare.

“I’m so, deeply sorry,” Professor McGonagall said quietly as they hurried into the room, the older woman being the last in line. The heavy ache of her voice was a relief... something about knowing that even their normally stoic Head of House was hurting because of Belle’s death made James feel like they really were all united.

Seven chairs had been placed around the desk. It was an painful number, James thought, considering there’d been eight of them for the last year and a half.

They took their seats, James waiting until everyone had already chosen before placing himself in the one that rested in the center.

The evening light had grown dark, but the lanterns filling the room illuminated nearly every corner. The shelves were piled with the strangest objects he’d ever seen. Among these items were books that looked thick enough to be made of stone instead of parchment.

He moved his eyes back to the Professor, who seemed patient enough to wait until they were ready to talk. The sound of steaming water was just audible behind him, and he assumed Professor McGonagall was back there somewhere pouring cups of tea. In all the seven years James had known her, she couldn’t just sit. Even in class while they were practicing, she had to be walking around supervising, or marking essays or doing wand work of her own.

“Professor,” Lily finally said, her impatience outweighing James’s need to take in every detail. “We need to help. We know you have something, a group, that work against Voldemort. We want--need--to be part of it.”

The sound of tea preparation in the back faded out, and Professor McGonagall appeared in front of them beside Dumbledore.

She was the first to speak again. “All of you wish to take part in this? These are dangerous times, and being connected to others who believe in fighting against Voldemort can bring just as much danger as it can safety.”

“We understand,” James said, then stopped himself to give the rest of the group a chance to answer. He heard their agreeing mutters pass around, Sirius’s hardly more than a growl.

Professor Dumbledore stood up from his desk and moved toward the door, flicking his wand at it and causing the clanking of a deadbolt as it slid into place. The next spell, James assumed, barricaded any noise from slipping past.

He walked to one of his aged shelves, then pulled something that looked like a sheet of silver out from behind a book. When he sat back down, he placed the metal in front of them, black words engraved into it.

When Dumbledore started speaking, James tore his eyes from the words to focus on the Headmaster. “Each of you will give your promise,” he touched the piece silver with a finger, “if you choose to partake in this journey with us. There is neither shame or weakness in one who feels their skills are of better use elsewhere, and I will fault not one of you if your decision changes through the course of this conversation. For those of you willing to continue, this will serve as a reminder of what we fight for, what we believe.”

James glanced down again, paying attention to the words this time.

I will bring forth and be a catalyst for change.
I will show mercy where others show cruelty.
I will show loyalty where others show not.


Lily’s voice broke through James’s concentration, his eyes moving from the silver sheet to her. “Professor, is that Fawkes?” she asked, pointing to the bird--the only thing of color--etched into a corner of the metal.

Dumbledore was silent, his eyes meeting McGonagall’s before he spoke.

“Allow me to tell you about the Order of the Phoenix.”

AN
Warning, this is going to be a long gushy AN. This is the first novel I've finished, so i might be a little bit over exciting. I'm so grateful to all the amazing people who've made this such a great journey. As always, a huge thank you to Dan, my awesome beta reader, for being part of this with me and for being part of the future book 2! And my lovely Sarah (Athene Goodstrength) for listening to me whine, complain, get excited hours and always being there for me♥

Becky, Lauren, Val, Kiana, Courntey, Ashwini, Sophie, Ral, Morgan, DracoGal, Owlpost, and Alli -- I know I should say reviews don't matter and what not, and don't get me wrong, I would love my story even without reviews. But you guys are the reason I push myself so much to make sure I finish a chapter a week and strive to make it the best chapter I can. Your reviews are so motivating, and I get so exciting/nervous every week to see what you guys think about each new chapter. Not only that, but I've gotten so close to you all through the course of BTF and feel like I've made these awesome friendships and gah. See, I told you I'd get blubbery. And one last mention -- the amazing Ess over at The Dark Arts. We both started together a little over a year ago, her graphic and me writing, and having her take my Chapter/Banner Requests and turn them into these gorgeous pieces of work takes my breath away every time.

THANK YOU ♥

Now, about book two (title still in progress :P). I want to take a few weeks and read through BTF to make sure I note any plot lines I want to get carried over, and just take a tiny break. I'll continue posting new chapters on Saturday and am planning to start posting August 17th :)

I think that's all, guys. Except to say once again how very lucky I am to have all of you reading ♥



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